Taking some time to get my rifle ready

After my successful Wallaby hunt I have realised the value a rifle with a scope.  Hunting with iron sights is fine, especially for someone with a great deal of experience.  For someone like myself, with limited experience, the advantage of using a scope will mean the difference between getting myself a wallaby, or coming home empty handed.

I own a scope which I bought for installation on my .308 rifle, yet I never found the time to sight it in before I moved from my last home in Collinsvale.  Now that I have little land, I don’t have the room to complete this, and therefore I can’t use the it reliably.  An unsighted scope is worse than no scope at all.  My friend with whom I have been wallaby hunting was kind enough to offer to assist me in zeroing the scope on his property.  After I placed the scope on my .22 rifle, I travelled to my friend’s house where we could complete the task.

I could have gone through the time-consuming process of trying to shoot at the target, and try to guess how close you are to the bullseye.  I was fortunate to have access to a sighting device, called a Collimator, which saved me a lot of ammo by allowing me to zero the crosshairs in a little closer to the centre of the target.

Not the Collimator which I used, yet a similar model to show you what I am talking about

The process of sighting in the rifle involves taking a shot at the centre of a target sheet and checking where the shot actually landed.  You then adjust your rifle’s cross hairs so that it is moved in the direction you wish to actually hit.  Fire again at the centre of the target and check… this process can go on for a while, yet with the Collimator it took much less time.

 

A similar target to the one I used… although obviously my shots were much better.

After we sighted in the scope my friend challenged me to shoot one of my empty .22 cases off a post.  I was extremely doubtful I could accomplish this, yet I thought it would be fun to try.  The case was placed on a post, and I set up around 50 metres away.  I carefully took aim and when I was ready, I squeezed the trigger.  The moment I saw the round hit the case, seeing it fly off into the air, filled me with a great sense of accomplishment.  I doubted that I could achieve the shot, yet knowing that my rifle is now capable of such precision shooting fills me with confidence that when I do go hunting I will be able to hit my target exactly.  It would have been great to find that case, yet that proved to more difficult than making that shot.

I think it will now be a tradition with me to do this whenever I sight in a scope… to shoot an empty case to prove that my rifle is accurate.

My first, successful, Wallaby hunt

After my first Wallaby hunt, where I ended up finishing unsuccessful, I was eager to return to my friends’ property and shoot a wallaby for myself.  My need to shoot a wallaby wasn’t due to any bloodthirsty urge, it was due to my wish to have the capacity to procure my own source of meat.  Learning the skills of hunting wallaby would provide me with the self confidence that I am able to provide for my family.  The knowledge, skill and experience of procuring wild meat is part of a great foundation of being self sufficient.

http://www.davidwrightart.com/

Part of the problem with my last effort of hunting was my rifle.  It is a great rifle, yet I was hunting with iron sights, on a dark and wet night.  After discussing it with my more experienced friend, I agreed that I would try out his .22 rifle which had a scope.  We also decided to try stalking the Wallaby on foot, rather than via tractor.  So we sorted out the rifle (just me checking out the scope, working out the bolt action and safety, etc), the large torch, and discussed which route we would take.

Shortly after leaving his home my friend spotted the first wallaby.  It was around 30 metres from where we were standing.  My friend shined the spotlight on the animal which caused it to stay still (as it is blinded in the night) and I started to take aim.  My friend quietly told me to use his shoulder as a rest in order to steady my shot.  I quickly moved to his left side I asked if he was sure, and he said of course.  I suspect that this is a usual position for experienced hunters who are in the field.  I loaded the first round, rested my hand holding the rifle on his shoulder and sighted down the scope so that the cross hairs were right on the wallaby’s brain.  I moved my finger to touch the trigger and took a breath.  As I exhaled, I started to squeeze the trigger, keeping the cross hair right on the back of the animal’s head (as it was looking to the right).  It felt like seconds, yet it was much less, when the trigger was squeezed sufficiently to fire the round.  I saw it hit the wallaby right in the head and it dropped dead instantly.  While I am reluctant to take a life, I felt a sense of jubilation at having successfully taken a wallaby.  This was a great achievement for me and proved that I could do this.

It isn’t a pretty picture

We walked over to the animal to ensure it was dead, as well as check it’s gender.  Female wallabies can carry young, which need to be dealt with.  Fortunately, this one was a male.  We checked that it was dead before moving on to hunt for more.

We walked for a couple of minutes before we located another wallaby.  My friend spotted it first and once more offered me his shoulder.  I decided that I would try without his aid, so I loaded a round, took a balanced stance, and took aim at the wallaby.  Without the aid of my friend to stablise me, the cross hairs were not steady and I had trouble keeping it on target.  I aimed at the brain section, and started to squeeze the trigger.  As I squeezed I believe I moved the cross hairs to the right and my shot went right in front of it’s nose.  It hopped away and I was at least grateful my missed shot didn’t injure the animal.

We continued on our walk, seeing a few wallabies, yet they quickly ran from our approach.  My guide advised me that the wallabies are so used to vehicles that they will not spook when you approach in a car (or tractor), yet they do not trust humans on foot.  As we were walking, more of them fled from us than our previous hunt.  Eventually my friend spotted a very large wallaby, yet it was some distance (maybe 100metres).  He decided to take a shot (which I appreciated… I doubt I could have taken the shot with my lack of experience).   He took aim and fired, yet his shot was a little high.  He has sighted in his rifle for short range hunting.  To compensate for the extra range he aimed high, yet it just missed the animal.  We checked for any sign of blood, yet we were confident the round missed.

We returned to the house with the single wallaby.  He was a small, young, one.  My friend explained that it would be very tender, due to it’s age.  As I had not skinned a wallaby, I was shown the procedure, and I think I can emulate it (although, it will take me a while to skin a wallaby at the speed of my friend.  It took him 3-5 minutes to do the whole thing).  I ended up with around 3 kilos of wallaby, and a whole wallaby skin for me to try to tan.

The skin was salted when I returned home that night, then washed (to remove the blood and tissue) and salted again.  I hope that if the tanning process goes well I might be able to fashion some moccasins, yet that is something for another day.

Even though I didn’t score a Wallaby, I still managed to get my hands on a couple.

A couple of days after the unsuccessful hunt (only unsuccessful by the standard that I didn’t get any Wallabies… it was a good night none the less) my friend called me to let me know that he had gone out hunting himself and he had managed to shoot four wallabies.  He asked if I wanted any of them… well, of course I did.  I went over to visit him after work that day and he told me I could take all of them if I liked as he had no room in his freezer.

I spent an hour cutting up the meat, resulting in around 4 kilos of meat (which I packed in 1 kilo lots), and 4 pairs of legs.  I stored all the excess meat in the freezer, so I scored enough wallaby for around eight meals!

 

The first meal I wanted to cook was a Vindaloo.  Why did I choose this?  Well, a friend who eats a lot of wallaby told me that this is his preferred method of cooking, as it removes the “gamey” flavour.  I also used to love a good Vindaloo when I was a young man, trying out all manner of different meats in my search for the best curry.  With the base decided, I cooked up the wallaby after slicing the back straps into cubes.  I wanted to add some vegetables, so I raided my garden and included carrots and potatoes which I had grown.

Not knowing if the wallaby meat would be tough, I opted to cook it in the slow cooker… it would take a lot longer, yet it would ensure the meat was not chewy.  I started cooking around 1pm, and every half an hour I would stir the meat until 3pm, when I added the vegetables.  Around 5pm I realised the meal was going to be much too spicy for my family, who are used to much milder curries.  In an attempt to take the edge off, I added a few scoops of sour cream.  This succeeded in lowering the temperature and also added some lovely flavour to the meal.

I cooked up some jasmine rice for a bed for the Vindaloo, and served it with Poppadums and some Naan bread.  Despite my efforts to take the edge off the curry, it was a lot hotter than I remembered.  I suspect my taste buds have grown milder over the many years.  My family tried to struggle through the meal, yet they couldn’t handle the spice.  I ended up eating nearly all myself, as no one wanted second helpings.  While it was very hot to taste, I still really enjoyed the meal and I could taste that the wallaby meat was similar to other meats I have eaten.  There will be more meals with this delicious meat.

Process for selling a handgun in Tasmania

With a heavy heart I recently decided it was time to sell my guns… or at least my hand guns.  I owned two hand guns one was a Ruger, the other was a Baby Eagle (which was my favourite firearm in the world).  I hadn’t used them for well over a year and the firearm club, with which I am a member, had reported that I had not met my requirements.  Why did I fail to meet my requirements?  It was getting too expensive and it also took a lot of time from my weekends.  The guns were gathering dust (figuratively… as if I would let them get dirty), Firearms Tasmania were upset with me for not meeting my requirements and I needed the money… so I decided to get rid of them.

My old Baby Eagle… you can see the red section where it is missing the slide pin.

I started looking for information online in selling them and I didn’t really get any helpful information.  It turned out to be really hard to find information on how to sell the pistols.  Places like Reddit were full of advice on how to sell them if they were illegally acquired.  That was not useful and actually baffled me as to what people were thinking.  Eventually I talked to a friend who used to work in the gun business down here in Tassie.  She told me that I should talk to Firearms Tas and get the information straight from them.  A quick phone call later and I received some great information.  They told me how to do it via a broker, sell them myself to a shop, organise sale online, etc.  This information was exactly what I needed.  I thanked the girl (her name was Michelle) and I was ready to get the process started.  One very important aspect was that I learned you will need the blue form (Firearm Registration form) which proves that I have a permit for the gun.  This form, similar to car registration, has an area on the rear which allows me to transfer ownership.  Without this form, the whole process is very messy.  Fortunately, Firearms Tas offered to print out new copies for me.  They even offer to mail it to your home address (takes up to seven days to arrive), or you can go pick them up from the Police Headquarters in Hobart.

My old Ruger 22/45. Apparently the steel versions are in demand at the moment

I contacted a member of my gun club who is also the club firearm dealer.  He told me that the market is pretty flooded with pistols at the moment, as Tassie has passed new legislation which made storing the handguns more troublesome.  Due to that, many people were getting out of the pistol hobby.  When I mentioned my intentions to sell my guns he was very helpful in providing me with advice on how to go about it and even traveled to meet me and complete the purchase.

I didn’t make a great deal of money… yet selling the guns makes life easier for a while, both with placating Firearms Tas, and also giving me some extra cash.  I am very sad to sell the pistols, especially my Baby Eagle, yet I know that when I am better off financially I will buy myself another pistol… maybe that CZ Shadow I have been keen to buy…

The new CZ Shadow

 

Interpretation of changes to the Tasmanian Firearms Laws

Recent changes to the Tasmanian firearms laws recently came to my attention when I received a letter (as all firearms owners would have) from Firearms Tas.  Apparently a modification of the laws occurred in May 2017, impacting on the owners of Category H (pistols) and people owning over 10 firearms.  The law relates to how these items are stored.

In addition to the particular container that has to be used (changes on this occurred back in November 2016), the changes in the legislation address that you will need to place a form of electronic security device on the receptacle.

The old Glenorchy firearms range

When I read the changes I was very shocked and concerned.  At a cursory read I realised that I would have to get expensive surveillance equipment.  I actually spent several hours thinking about what I was going to do until I re-read the legislation and realised what it means.

The changes state you need an “alarm or a visual recording device”.  The alarm doesn’t have to be expensive.  The law is that if you use “an alarm, [it] must be either audible or monitored.”  So basically, you just need something which will activate a loud sound when the door is opened… something like this should work.

 

https://www.bunnings.com.au/orion-white-door-window-contact-alarm-4-pack_p4220534

 

I am fairly confident that I have interpreted this legislation correctly as I am well versed in understanding laws.  I do intend to follow up with an email to the Tas Firearms to ask if I have understood the changes and I will be sure to post that here when I have the information.

If this affects you, or you are just curious, check the below post from Tasmania Police.

http://www.police.tas.gov.au/services-online/firearms/draft-storage-safekeeping-transport/

 

These changes come into effect on 4 December 2017, so there is a little time to sort this out.

 

 

“Happiness depends upon ourselves.” – Aristotle

I have met a couple of people who regularly hunt Wallabies down here in Tasmania, and they have told me that they would be happy for me to come and join them on some of their hunts.  I will have to think about when would be appropriate (and Kitty wants me to think about whether I can trust these people… she is a little protective of me).  This is something I have been planning to do for a while, gaining my own meat is one of my goals for this year.

 

In order to work out where to go (should I go by myself), I called the Tasmanian Game Management unit and found out that there are some great areas for hunting near to wear I live… in fact, I can get access to land to hunt Deer, Wallaby and other animals.  I am waiting for the information to be sent to me.

 

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An Australian Aslav with a 40mm cannon

I recently attended a Military Career Expo, mostly because I wanted to check out the equipment they would have on display, but also because Kitty wanted to show my eldest son some possible career options.  I am not really a fan of my children joining the military.  I grew up as an Army Brat (my father was in the Army) so I have an insight into the life.  While it is an important job, I wouldn’t want my children to do it.  Yet, in the end, it is their choice… so I agree with Kitty.

My son was very interested in the options available, and told us that when he was old enough he might like to join the cadets.  My Youngest sister was in the Cadets, and I am sure I recall that she learnt many interesting skills.  She is a very capable person, so I am sure it did her a lot of good.

 

While at the Expo, my children managed to get their hands on all sorts of great (and free) Merchandise.  They played on flight simulators, and even were able to handle some of the military weapons.

 

They were able to play with:

  • the L14A1 Carl Gustav Medium Direct Fire Support Weapon (A Rocket Launcher).
  • F88 Austeyr,
  • F88 Austeyr with a M203 Grenade Launcher
  • FN Mag 58
  • F89 Minimi
Me holding a Austeyr... one of the proudest moments of my life!
Me holding a Austeyr… one of the proudest moments of my life!

I also managed to play with these and I was given a quick (yet informative) course on the use of the M203 Grenade Launcher.

As I am talking about Firearms, I thought I might share this hilarious (and important safety wise) video of people being stupid with guns.  If you handle firearms, watch the video and learn from their mistakes.

“Sometimes, it’s just great to bring new people into the mix.” – John Oats

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This picture is from Glenorchy branch, showing their classic range

As part of keeping a handgun in Australia, I am required to attend the shooting range a number of times each year to practice and to participate in competitions.  The number of times you need to depend is related to the number of handguns you own.  As such, I recently attended the local Huon Gun Club, for their IPSC shooting practice.  I don’t normally participate in the IPSC event, normally competing in Classic Matches at my old range, yet as I now live closer to the Huon Branch, I will need to start going here.  I met the three other people who attended the range on the day and they seem like a nice bunch of people.  They explained to me the particular set up of this club, and as I brought my pistol with me, they invited me to participate in the practice with them.  I suspect that they wanted to ensure that I had the correct demeanour and discipline, that I was essentially someone whom they would want to join the branch.

One of the guys that I met spent a lot of the time scouring the ground.  I thought that he was looking for spent cases (which is how most people spend their time at ranges), yet he was looking for used projectiles (the “bullet” part of the round…. The bit that is shot from the gun).  He told me all about his process of melting them down and recasting them for reloading and use.  It was interesting, I knew that people did this, yet I thought that they used old led from car tires and fishing sinkers.  I haven’t really seen used projectiles on a gun range before (as they are always shot away from where I am).

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A few empty 9mm cases.

I was pretty nervous… I have shot IPSC maybe two times in my life, so it is not what I am used to doing.  Yet, I seemed to really impress them with my ability and discipline.  I showed them that I was well trained, by demonstrating correct finger discipline, the gun was always in a safe direction, the one time a case failed to properly eject, I showed that I can keep cool and fix the problem.  In addition, I think they could see that I was well practiced, as my time was not the lowest on the day, and my accuracy exceptional.  For example, on the first course we were required to shoot 9 different targets.  The other guys used 20 to 30 rounds for this course, I used nine as I hit the target with each shot.  I am pretty proud of my accuracy here, especially as it was my first time in a long time shooting a gun.

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The IPSC course we made at the range.

One of the problems with the range is that it is so remote.  I got a little lost on the drive home, as I needed to drive along dirt roads in a state forest.  Send issue was that they spend around 6 hours on the range when they go.  I don’t have that much time to spend away from home, as there is always work needing to be done.  Still, I do admit that it was a lot more fun than Classic shooting.  I will definitely be attending more in the future.